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Extension of Unemployment Compensation

The unemployment rate in the United States of America has increased dramatically. Having almost tripled with the average unemployment rate from 1948-2019 sitting around 4.7%, with it being, as of June 2020, 14,7%.

Translated to a population number that 14.7% would constitute that 53.5 million Americans are currently without work, and without an income.

In March 2020, President Trump signed a new Act into Law. The CARES Act was passed by congress in an effort to help all Americans with this tough and trying economy we are currently experiencing.

This Act serves to provide Americans who have lost their jobs due to this tumultuous economy that were not previously covered before, or are in a situation where they are in need of an extension in benefits.

Under the CARES Act people who have lost an income, or who were currently unemployed will have access to an extended period of being able to claim unemployment insurance. All states are required to offer an extra 13 weeks of PEUC, that is funded directly by the federal government, to anyone that has already exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Until the end of the year individuals who are unemployed will be eligible for this assistance. This especially includes individuals who may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance because the loss of their job was due to unforeseen circumstances that have occurred but were not previously stipulated as just cause for unemployment compensation.

Any individual who has lost their job due to the current state of the economy will be covered by PUA until the end of 2020. Until any new legislation is passed, the PEUC and PUA benefits are only valid until December 31st, 2020.

Most states allow for a 26 week period of Unemployment Insurance, and now with the CARES Act most states will be extending it by 13 weeks.

Below are some of the states maximum weekly period for unemployment insurance that don’t reach the 26 week maximum;

  • Montana provides a maximum of 28 weeks
  • Michigan usually provides 20 weeks, but have upped the maximum to 26 weeks.
  • South Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas provide a maximum of 20 weeks.
  • Massachusetts usually provides up to 30 weeks, but is reduced to 26 weeks when federal extension is applied.

Some states don’t provide a stable maximum of weeks for unemployment insurance, but rather have an adjustable maximum based on the current employment status in the state.

  • Kansas usually provides 16 weeks, but has currently been extended to a 26 week maximum until April 2021.
  • Alabama provides up to 14 weeks, with an extra 5 week extension if you enrol in a state approved training program.
  • Florida and North Carolina  provides up to 12 weeks.
  • Georgia provides up to 14 weeks under normal circumstances, but has extended it to 26 weeks.

These states serve as the anomalies to the 26 week maximum, with an extra 13 week extension rule, however to be sure you should check your state’s stance on the situation.

You can access this information through contacting your local unemployment insurance office.

Do you know if you’re eligible for Unemployment Insurance?

Under “normal” circumstances, every state will have differing eligibility, however the main characteristics of eligibility are:

  • If you are unemployed due to no fault of yours. Which in most states constitutes that there is no available work for you.
  • You will have to meet any work period or wage amount requirements. This constitutes as a “base period” essentially meaning that you would have had to work and earned pay for a certain amount of time in order to be eligible for unemployment insurance.
  • You will also have to meet any other particular requirements your state may have.

Flexibilities due to the current economic climate (The federal law allows for flexibility under certain circumstances)

  • If your employer has been forced to stop working operations due to restrictions placed by the state, thus preventing you from working. Resulting in a loss of income.
  • If you are forced to quarantine for a period of time with no work nor income, but will return to work after the quarantine period is finished.
  • If you leave a place of employment in fear of you or your family becoming contagiously ill.
  • If you leave your place of employment to care for a family member.

You should check your specific eligibility in your home state before applying just to ensure that you do qualify.

But now that we have a good basic idea of what it takes to be eligible for Unemployment Insurance, let’s have a look at how to apply.

How to apply for Unemployment Insurance

In order to receive unemployment insurance you will have to file a claim with your local state unemployment insurance program.

This can be done via phone, email or even in person. This is dependent on the state you are living and working in.

  • You should contact your local unemployment insurance program as soon as you become unemployed.
  • In principle you should file your claim of unemployment in the state that you worked in when you became unemployed. If this turns out to be multiple states, or not the current state that you are living in your local unemployment insurance agency should be able to provide you with information on how to apply in the state you were working in previously.
  • When you are filing a claim for unemployment you will be asked for a range of personal information. In order to ensure that the application process runs smoothly and quickly its vital that you provide all the information they need as accurately as possible.
  • From the time you submit the claim it will usually take around 2-3 weeks for you to receive your first benefits check.

With this funding and the extension made available under the CARES Act, we will have access to funds that will allow you to extend your unemployment compensation so that you may have more support and time to find employment.